World News in Brief: May 20

Wednesday, 2020-05-20 18:03:27
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As Cyclone Amphan nears, heavy rains lash India’s two eastern states, Bangladesh.
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Heavy rains and winds lashed two eastern Indian states and parts of Bangladesh hours before a powerful cyclone (Cyclone Amphan) made landfall on Wednesday (May 20), with rescue teams evacuating millions of villagers to higher ground in an operation complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

* China recorded five new coronavirus cases for May 19, down from six a day earlier, the National Health Commission reported on Wednesday. The total number of COVID-19 infections in China to date now stands at 82,965, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

* Cambodia has lifted a ban on entry of visitors from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the United States that had been put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Despite the easing, foreign visitors would still need to have a certificate no more than 72 hours old confirming that they are not infected with the novel coronavirus and proof of US$50,000 worth of health insurance while in Cambodia, the ministry said.

* Malaysia's health ministry reported 31 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the cumulative total to 7,009 infections. No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total number of fatalities at 114.

* Indonesia reported on Wednesday 693 new coronavirus infections, the Southeast Asian nation's biggest daily rise and taking the total number of cases to 19,189, according to the website of Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force. The task force reported 21 additional deaths, taking the total to 1,242, while 4,575 people have recovered.

* The Philippines' health ministry on Wednesday recorded 279 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, the highest daily increase in nine days, and five additional deaths. In a bulletin, the ministry said total deaths had reached 842, while infections have risen to 13,221, with total recoveries rising 89 to 2,932.

* Russia's coronavirus outbreak is entering a more stable phase, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Wednesday, while warning that restrictions should be lifted carefully in the 17 regions where such moves have been authorised. Russia's coronavirus cases passed through 300,000 on Wednesday, but with the lowest daily rise in infections since May 1.

* Britain sold a government bond that pays a negative yield for the first time on Wednesday - meaning that Britain's government is effectively being paid to borrow as investors agreed to be paid back slightly less than they lent. The bond, which matures in July 2023, sold at an average yield of -0.003%. While investors will receive an annual interest payment of 0.75%, they paid above face value for the bond so the actual return in cash terms is less than they have lent.

* Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Wednesday that the nation was on a path towards containing the novel coronavirus. But he said Japan was yet ready to promote tourism and added that some restrictions will remain, even if the government lifts its state of emergency in all regions.

* The British government is still working on the details of how it will implement quarantine measures for people arriving in the country, interior minister Priti Patel said on Wednesday.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 797 to 176,007, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday. The reported death toll rose by 83 to 8,090, the tally showed.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday he hoped to sign a new deal with the International Monetary Fund in May, which was needed to maintain financial stability.

* Croatia's President Zoran Milanovic on Wednesday called a parliamentary election for July 5, a statement issued by his office said.

* Iran's navy will continue its "regular missions" in the Gulf, an Iranian military official was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency on Wednesday, a day after the US Navy issued a warning to mariners there to stay away from US warships.

* Polish schools will most probably remain closed until the end of June, when children start summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Muller told public radio on Wednesday. The current school year ends on June 26, followed by a two-month long holiday in July and August.

* Mexico registered 2,713 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the health ministry said, its biggest daily increase yet in infections, bringing its overall tally to 54,346 cases. Authorities also registered 334 more fatalities, only the second time that the daily death toll has exceeded 300. The country has now tallied 5,666 overall deaths from the virus.

* Colombia's mandatory quarantine has been extended by a further week until May 31, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday, the fourth extension to a lockdown intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The Andean country has nearly 17,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 600 deaths. It began the quarantine in late March. A health state of emergency will be extended until Aug. 31, Duque added.

* Lesotho's new Prime Minister, Mwhereoeketsi Majoro, was sworn in on Wednesday morning, a day after his predecessor resigned over a murder case. Majoro took the oath at the king's palace in front of dignitaries, a Reuters witness saw.

* Burundians voted on Wednesday in their first competitive presidential election since a civil war erupted in 1993, with the election commission calling for a peaceful vote despite simmering political violence and the coronavirus pandemic. Burundi has reported 42 coronavirus cases and one death.